The BC Protestant Orphans' Home
Introduction Victorian Childhood Philanthropy BC Protestant Orphans' Home References Site Information

"The purpose

of the Society is

to receive and provide

a home for orphan

destitute or other children

requiring such care,

and to educate them

in the Protestant Faith,

and instruct them in

the elements of

secular knowledge."

Incorporation documents  
BC Protestant Orphans' Home  


The British Columbia Protestant Orphans' Home was founded in Victoria in 1873.  Established to provide care, education and religious teaching to orphans and other children in need, its roots can be traced to the philanthropic movement of the 19th century and to the changing concept of childhood among the middle class during the Victorian era.

Motivated by their Christian principles and a desire to improve the lives of the less fortunate in the young colony, the Cridges and others began to receive orphans into their own homes.  Their actions led to a cooperative effort among the Protestant churches and the formation of the BC Protestant Orphans' Home.

This website looks at the BC Protestant Orphans' Home using a microhistorical analysis, setting this local institution - and the individuals connected to it - within the larger context of influences that shaped its inception and growth.  

What is Microhistory?

Micro-history is a small-scale study of the past that commonly focuses on low-population areas and individuals who are ignored or undervalued in macro-history.  This branch of history became popularized in the late 1960’s as a result of rising concern over the macro-historical assumptions of pattern, causation, and order which created “anonymous structures and processes”  of individuals’ experiences.  Whereas the macro-historical past emphasizes politics, economics and collectives, micro-history stresses “the conditions of everyday life as they are experienced by common people.”   Focus on the more qualitative aspect of the past provides a more personal account of the human past.

Victoria’s Victoria and the Protestant Orphans’ Home

The Victorian Era  (1837-1900) is the stage on which the Protestant Orphans’ Home was founded (1873).  In 1867 Queen Victoria signed the law that created Canada as a nation:  four years later British Columbia joined Canada with Victoria as the capital. Social and political reform occurred in tandem with the Home’s development, which provides a context for understanding the philanthropic approach towards oppressed, marginalized and unaided residents of Victoria. While Victoria’s citizens were appealing to the British Crown for improved development of railways, buildings and naval bases the Cridges amongst others were working towards the improved shelter for children who plagued the towns streets.  The Cridges, MacDonalds and John George Taylor are but a few social reformists who were instrumental in and exemplary of the compassionate concern for children without families.  This characteristic spirit of the Victorian Era largely influenced the Home’s foundation.

BC Protestant Orphans' Home on Rae Street, c1880

The Orphans' home on the corner of Rae and Blanshard Streets, c1880
(BC Archives B-01570)

Archival Images


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